Marking a significant momentum of the economic recovery and stabilization, the second high- level roundtable discussion on Crisis to Recovery was held today, 31 October 2023, in Colombo. This event follows the previous session in December 2022 and provides a forum to discuss the progress of the Government’s reform programs aimed at addressing key economic and structural issues. It also focuses on transitioning from crisis recovery to a sustainable growth path, challenges and opportunities for attracting investment, promoting private capital mobilization, creating jobs, and maintaining commitments by the Government and participating partners towards Sri Lanka’s greener, resilient, and inclusive development.
During the previous session in December 2022, representatives from the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) emphasized that a coordinated assistance program, supported by the multilateral financial institutions, is required for Sri Lanka to recover from the economic crisis currently facing the country.
The Sri Lankan economy has shown initial signs of stabilization, with moderating inflation, easing foreign exchange liquidity pressures, and some progress on debt restructuring, including the approval of the domestic debt restructuring strategy. Under the Government of Sri Lanka’s reform program, underpinned by the IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and supported by other development partners, cornerstone legislation is being developed, and structural reforms are being implemented to restore stability and regain access to international financial markets. However, the path to recovery remains narrow, with limited fiscal and external buffers.
Moving forward, a rapid and sufficiently deep external debt restructuring, as well as the continued implementation of macro-fiscal and structural reforms that improve economic governance, enhance competitiveness, and protect the poor and vulnerable, remain essential for regaining a sustainable growth path. A clear and concrete action plan for coordinating these reforms, involving relevant stakeholders, including development partners, would significantly contribute to the successful implementation of the government-owned reform program.
Today’s Roundtable provided an open and candid forum between the Government of Sri Lanka, the Developmental Partners, and the private sector to share key updates and recommendations to sustain the momentum of the nation’s reform efforts.
The session was opened by the President Ranil Wickremesinghe, representing the Government of Sri Lanka. He delivered an address on the growth and strategic directions for Sri Lanka as it moves from recovery to a sustainable growth path. The President also made firm commitments for the Government to work hand in hand with the private sector to unlock key investments in new and existing economic sectors moving forward, together with exploring opportunities in pursuing Green initiatives and championing Sri Lanka as a regional logistics hub in the near future.
Outcomes from the discussions in the Roundtable signaled overwhelming commitment and confidence from both the Developmental Partners and the Private Sector in the Government’s present reform efforts. The Government has also provided a clear framework to improving coordination and communications, along with detailed action plans on the implementation and delivery of the reform agenda.
To strengthen delivery, the Government has plans to set-up a Presidential Delivery Unit, conduct Economic Labs with the private sector, and hold Open days to communicate outcomes to the public of what has been achieved and delivered.
Marking the Reform Priorities, Progress, Challenges and Opportunities, Secretary to the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance, Mr. K. M. Mahinda Siriwardana made a presentation under the theme of “Progress on key stabilization measures and structural reforms undertaken since the last roundtable discussion in December 2022 and planned over the medium term to sustain stability, promote growth, and re-establish credit worthiness” while outlining the Government’s reform coordination platform around which Multilateral Development Banks can work.
Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Dr. P Nandalal Weerasinghe highlighted the progress on debt restructuring made by the Sri Lankan Government. Alongside these presentations and remarks, international development partners including IMF, World Bank, MIGA, ADB, AIIB, ЛСА, USAID, EU, UN and private sector development partners made an interactive length long discussion and shared their views on the matter.
The session was also attended by Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekara and State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Senior Advisor on National Security to the President and Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga and Foreign Ministry Secretary Ms Aruni Wijewardane all representing the Government of Sri Lanka.
Additionally, the following international representatives took part in the discussion: Ms. Anna Bjerde, World Bank Managing Director of Operations; Martin Raiser, World Bank Vice President for South Asia Region; Mr. Junaid Kamal Ahmed, Vice President for Operations, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); Ms. Sarwat Jahan, Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF); Mr. Shixin Chen, Vice President (South, Central, and West Asia) of the Asian Development Bank; Dr. Urjit Patel, Vice President, Investment Operations of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); H.E. Ambassador Carmen Moreno, Ambassador of the EU Delegation ; Ms. Sachiko Imoto, Senior Vice President, JICA; Ms. Anjali Kaur, Deputy Assistant Administrator USAID; and Mr. Marc-André Franche, Resident Coordinator, UN.
From the private sector, Mr. Krishan Balendra, CEO of John Keells Holdings; Mr. Mahesh Amlean, Chairman of MAS Holdings; Mr. Ajit Gunewardene, Chairman of the Oversight Committee for trade and investment, Duminda Hulangamuwa, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Ms. Sherin Cader, Chairperson of Nations Trust Bank joined as private sector representatives from Sri Lanka.
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